Addems Seaplane Model

 With a wife to support, Mr. Addems gave up barnstorming and began flying the mail from Chicago to Milwaukee which was a forerunner of Northwestern Airlines. In 1927, he switched to the Chicago – Cleveland route of the fledgling National Air Transport and stayed on when it became the eastern wing of United Airlines in 1931.

 With the Postal Service offering a bonus for night deliveries, Addems became a pioneer in testing instrument flying equipment, becoming so proficient that the self-taught pilot was soon training other United pilots. As United’s most revered pilot, he became director of flight operations, flying and mapping each new route, testing each new airplane and developing many procedures that became industry standards.

Although he was always a stickler for safety, Mr. Addems lost his desk job at the Denver headquarters when the airline suffered a series of crashes in the early 1950’s. Many of the airline’s pilots thought he had been unfairly treated, but Addems could hardly complain. As a result of the demotion he was returned to the skies, first flying between San Francisco and Tokyo on government contract runs and then becoming chief pilot on United’s San Francisco-Hawaii route. After he reached the mandatory retirement age of 60 in January, 1959, Addems, who had settled in Atherton, California, began to build a replica of the famous Nieuport flown by the Lafayette Escadrille in World War I.

 Over the next two decades he performed at exhibitions and even had a stint as a movie pilot. At age 83 he made his last flight by flying his Nieuport to donate it to the San Diego Aerospace Museum.

Sources: The New York Times, Sunday, December 7, 1997 earlyaviators.com